UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Canadian provincial and territorial archival legislation : a case study of the disjunction between theory and law Bryans, Victoria Louise


This thesis is an inquiry into the nature of current provincial and territorial archival legislation in Canada. It provides an analysis of archival legislation as a form of written communication and argues that the legislation suffers from the same deficiencies inherent in other forms of communication as a result of external social influences on its meaning. Chapter one therefore traces the evolution of the legislation from 1790 to the present and shows how the meaning of current legislative texts emerged neither from objective legal considerations nor archival theory, but as an ad hoc response to a variety of social influences. The remaining chapters are based on a detailed content analysis of the three main components of current provincial and territorial archival legislation: provisions establishing definitions of key terms, provisions establishing the scope and authority of administrative structures for archival programmes and provisions establishing programme elements. They elaborate on the argument advanced in chapter one that the social production of meaning, arising from the manner in which current provincial and territorial archival legislation has developed, adversely affects its ability to promote the preservation of documents in two ways. First, this process of development has meant that wording in legislative texts carries overtones of outdated attitudes and assumptions about archives. Second, it has led to inconsistency, conflict, vagueness and ambiguity in the meaning of the texts. These chapters also put forth prescriptive ideas regarding how the adverse affects of social influences on the meaning of current provincial and territorial archival legislation might be overcome.

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